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Shrines / Wile E. Coyote (American Animated Character) / Playlist

Last Updated: 21/09/2023


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Individual Song Breakdowns | Other Songs

I am of the 8Tracks fandom background, meaning I’m an ageing, ailing spinster. Okay, I’m not that old, but back in my day we had a service that allowed us to annotate songs and everything, rather than leaving it all up with no context on Spotify for our normie friends to see.

YouTube mirror link for those without Spotify

For this playlist, I’ve gone with a selection of songs that have the following recurring themes: frustration, isolation, and repetition. As you will see, I also like literal imagery of vast, lonely deserts, falling rocks, and repetition. There are two songs of a delightful genre called “filk” (a genre of folk music about scifi, fantasy, and popular culture). There is an inherent confidence and audacity to the Coyote as a character, so I really wanted songs that reflected that without completely losing the humiliation and defeat that inevitably nips at his heels everywhere he goes.


Because I think way too hard about all this stuff, I have gone ahead and written up a breakdown as to why all these songs apply to the Coyote and how/why they all fit together in this playlist.

Far From Any Road — The Handsome Family

Far From Any Road is a quintessential southern gothic song about a desert plant so rare and dangerous it consumes those in pursuit of it, literally bleeding them dry and spitting out their remains which become a part of the desert landscape and the spirit of the land. The obsession and psychedelic pull towards the plant the singers feel overtakes any logical thoughts that would keep them from approaching. The nature of us all, as is embodied by the Coyote is that obsession and madness will draw us even to certain death. This song is also a duet, as are the Coyote and the Road Runner.

Coyote — Mark Knopfler

Coyote is a straight-forward filk song about the Coyote’s endless struggles catching the Road Runner. The singer is somewhat sympathetic to the Coyote’s plight, despite the smugness of his own speed in comparison. He may, in fact, be driving a Plymouth Roadrunner, making the speaker the Road Runner being chased in this song. Huh? Huh? 👀

Wile E. Coyote — The Great Divide

If Mark Knopfler’s song was mocking and smug, this song is the opposite. The singer fucking hates the Road Runner. This song sounds like you are the Coyote sitting with a really really drunk friend at a bar who is giving you a pep talk. I don’t think I need to elaborate any further honestly just listen to it.

Nemeses — Jonathan Coulton featuring John Roderick

This song is I think the perfect one to express the dynamic of the Coyote and the Road Runner as they are normally in their shorts. Like. Literally to the point where I feel like I could just paste the whole lyrics page and be understood. Similar to Saint Motel's "To my Enemies" this song is a playful, almost cartoonish declaration of begrudging respect for and desire for violence towards a nemesis. What is different about this song that really lends itself to the Coyote it is the self-aggrandizing attitude of the singer ("Bering a brilliant man/Going to great expense/Devising a master plan")

Another thing is the way the subject of the song seems to be a little aloof and uninterested in the dynamic ("Sometimes it's hard to tell/If you even notice me/Maybe it's just as well/It's better you don't see/The way I'm running just to keep your back in view/In your shadow waiting for the perfect moment"). I don't know if I think the Road Runner knows they're nemeses, as he is most often the less antagonistic of the two.

Let's Get This Over With — They Might Be Giants

Let’s Get This Over With is a song that has so many interpretations, but a running theme in many of the ones I’ve seen is the inevitability of life and death. I interpreted it as someone running lines all day, or going through the motions of a repetitive sequence of tasks there is no sense of novelty to (“And when you wake up you can feel your hair grow/Crawl out of your cave and you can watch your shadow/Creep across the ground until the day is done/All the while the planet circles 'round the sun/Everybody knows how this goes so let's get over it”).

In the most neutral sense of the word, Coyote/Road Runner cartoons are formulaic, and they’re designed to be that way. The outcome of the setup of a gag is an expected punchline of the Coyote failing in increasingly comical and humiliating ways. The universe cannot and will not let the Coyote cannot succeed because he is predestined to fail from the point of his very conception. We know this. He knows this (on occasion). The Coyote, of course, keeps trying anyway, because the coyote is determined to prove himself capable to us as the audience.

Lamento Boliviano — Los Enanitos Verdes

DISCLAIMER: I don’t speak Spanish, so it’s more than possible that there is some nuance to the language that I’m missing basing this on other analysis and incredibly literal lyric translations, luckily it is a popular song so there is a decent amount of English discussion about it. Hover over for the original Spanish lyrics. Here is the translation I used.

Lamento Boliviano seems to be a song about strength and resilience in the face of hardship. The singer feels like a pressure cooker, acknowledging an unending situation
(“that one day began/and won’t ever stop/and hurts no one”)“Que un día empezó/Y no va a terminar/Y a nadie hace daño”
that while painful
(“My situation is/an enormous affliction”) “Es mi situación/Una desolación”
is worth pushing through because of the passion within
(“And my idiot heart/will always shine”) “Y mi corazón idiota/Siempre brillará”
The boldness and audacity central to the Coyote as a character I think are well-represented here. On some level, he must know that things will always end the same as they were, but he believes in himself and the Acme corporation enough to try again. He falls down nine times and gets up ten.

The version by Los Enanitos Verdes has a swagger to it that makes it the perfect pair with the next song on the playlist, Nada, which feels much more defeatist. To further cement the pair as such, I offer a comment by Enanitos Verdes frontman Maricano as he is quoted in a Pledge Times article in response to what he feels the song is about: “It’s just a song, nothing happens.”

Nada — The Refreshments

Nada is a moody song about a deep, wandering loneliness as the singer drives endlessly into a Mexican desert storm. There’s no deeper meaning, or warning to the emptiness (“There ain’t no moral to this story at all”), just that it exists and the singer is telling us about it, desiring connection to at the very least feel somewhat less alone (“I’ve been away from the living, I don’t need to be forgiven/I’m just waiting on that cold, black, sun-cracked, numb-inside, soul of mine, to come alive”). On some sort of weird fourth-wall shattering level, the Coyote is aware of us, the audience. We are primarily who he speaks to, through signs and screams and looking directly at the camera. Are there any other coyotes out there? Does he occasionally call home and talk to anyone? Or is he just a weird guy who lives alone in a cave chasing what is either the same damn bird for eighty years, or for a whole flock of identical birds tormenting him endlessly. Is the Coyote actually in Hell? It doesn’t matter! There is no moral! No meaning at all, just weird Rube-Goldberg machines and the anticipation in us for something to go wrong.

Comfort Eagle — CAKE

Comfort Eagle is about excess and the fanaticism of consumerism that borders on and in this case replicates religious worship of a system. Endlessly growing in size, power, and connections both within its related industries but also with the consumer. Once a dependance on the consumer is established, a system can grow and demand more and more grand gestures of trust in said system (“Do you believe in the one true edge?/By fastening your safety belts, and stepping towards the ledge?”) which offers only the illusion of choice due to its power operating as an oligopoly (“Some people drink Pepsi, some people drink Coke/The Wacky Morning DJ, says democracy’s a joke”).

When applied to the Coyote, the “religion” being built is the ACME Corporation. There are various interpretations based on literal decades of canon as to what Coyote is to the company: is he an employee? A spokesperson? Does he design some of the products? Is he actually the CEO? Private contractor? Whatever he is, the company has an absolute chokehold on the poor bastard and by offering convenience, and various other “benefits” creates this undeserved brand loyalty (“we’re the only ones to turn to when your castles turn to sand” and “We can send a car to find you/If you ever lose your way”). However, that aforementioned, non-specific position he’s in in relation to the company can place him into any of the archetypes described within the narrative of the song. Are you really anything, if you are everything?

Other Songs

There are a few songs it feels like should be at least mentioned here despite them not being on my playlist.

Operation: Desert Storm — Tom Smith

This one is another filk song. And oh my GOD I adore it, unlike the other two on this playlist it's told from the first person perspective of the Coyote, detailing his many, many failures. It's so good, I can feel the frustration and the obsession in the singer's voice. It's so so good.

The main reason this song isn't on the playlist is becasue it's not on Spotify. Here's a link to the song on Tom Smith's Bandcamp.

The Road Runner Show Theme (Extended) — Dave Rucci

I mean. Of course. This one is an obvious song related directly to the character, but it's not a song I would like to listen to just to listen to.

This specific version includes an extended guitar solo that fits right in with the rest of the song!

To My Enemies — Saint Motel

This song was swapped out for "Nemeses" by Jonathan Coulton, which is very similar but the littelst bit less playful and more in line with how they actually relate to each other.

Rocket Man (I Think It's Gonna Be A Long Long Time) — Elton John

This song and Let’s Get it Over With go very well together, as they both have a recurring theme of exhausting routine. This one I chose because of the literal imagery of the rocket. While in the Coyote’s case, it’s more of a missile than Elton John’s literal spaceship in outer space, but the lonely desert isn’t really that much different from lonely space, right? (I also laughed when this popped up in the recommended songs on Spotify.)

This song was removed from the playlist after a few listens, mainly because it doesn’t really fit musically with the rest of the songs, and requires a little more reaching and abstraction than I want for this playlist.

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